Adopted on January 13, 2012
My family (husband, 12 year-old son and 9.5 year-old daughter) and I, adopted Eli one year ago. During this time he has become an integral part of our family. But let me back up and tell you a bit of our story. At the time we first met Eli he was nearly 7 months old. We were all struck with his beauty and size of his enormous ears. After spending some time with him, it was clear how intelligent he was and how eager to play and to please his foster mom. But he is so much more. When Eli came to live with us, he had a number of fears and was rather un-socialized. Although his foster family made great strides with him and helped him heal from his broken rear leg, he still had much to learn and experience. He was afraid of the dark, cars, trucks, motorcycles, horns, baby strollers, bicycles, scooters, joggers, skateboards, trash barrels, recycling containers, flags and outdoor decorations of any sort. He was very wary of adults, especially bearded men. He pulled like a freight train on leash and barked like a deranged animal at other dogs on our walks.
But the one thing that was clear from the beginning was his love for children. Not only is Eli terrific with my two children, who love him to pieces, but he is loving and patient with all the children who come to our house, who we meet at the little league baseball field, who we meet walking to school and into town. Now that he has learned some very nice manners, he is able to sit calmly while they pet him all over and he accepts treats very gently. It always makes me chuckle when the very little ones, who are face to face with him get a big slurp up the side of the cheek or right smack dab in the center of the nose! My children play with him in every capacity; of course all three love to play ball, chase (with both human and canine getting a turn to be the chaser and the chased party), search & rescue, “rabies”, swimming in the pool, beginning agility competition training, tug, obedience training, teaching tricks, dress-up, lots of snuggles and animal vet.
This latest game involves my daughter (who has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 3) giving Eli a check-up. And let me tell you, she is very thorough. She checks his ears, inside his mouth-touches teeth and wiggles the tip of his tongue, she moves his jiggley jowls, she checks his legs, in-between his toes and the little hiding place in the bottom of his paw between the big pad and toes. She handles his tail and rolls him onto his belly, feels his pointy chest bone. He takes this all in stride, being very patient with her …all this with him being a young, energetic dog himself! When he’s had enough, he gets up gives a little energetic bark, goes into play bow position and then is off running, often with a stolen stethoscope or shoe.
So, during the situations when he has been a challenge, I have always thought to myself, if he can be so patient with the kids, he can conquer this fear, this problem, this issue. He has grown so much in a year. He has graduated through two obedience classes, passed his CGC at 16 months and worked hard through two 6 week sessions with GSRNE’s Mary Farren. He has learned most of his commands with ease. “Come”, presented the biggest challenge, although when rewarded with a piece of deli meat, not only did he “come”, he came at top speed! He knows some fun tricks; speak, spin, kayak (hopping into our kayaks), arm (he stands on his hind legs and places his front paws on your outstretched arm), and crawl. The kids have taught him to run through a basic agility course, with jumps, weave polls, tunnel and pause box. Eli has been going to a wonderful doggie daycare facility two days a week for dog socialization. At the beginning, he was very uncomfortable with all those dogs but after a couple weeks he began to relax and now loves going. He seems to know which days he goes and is waiting for my husband to take him in the morning. Eli now walks by our side very nicely on our daily walks. He is still tempted by the squirrels and chipmunks, but a firm “leave it” is all he needs to be back on track. He is no longer afraid of all those things/ situations I mentioned above. Eli is still wary of some adults and continues to be dog reactive when on leash but we will continue to work hard with Eli and I know next year at this time, he will have overcome these issues as well. Eli is the most affectionate dog I’ve ever owned and he has captured all four of our hearts. We cannot imagine our home without him and will be forever grateful to GSRNE for bringing this lovely, furry boy into our lives and allowing us to raise him.